Deputies killed

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2 Gilchrist County deputies shot in restaurant

By Deborah Goad

Two Gilchrist County deputies were killed Thursday afternoon, April 17, when they were shot by a man whose motives are still unknown.

Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz said Sgt. Noel Ramirez and Deputy Taylor Lindsey were having lunch at about 3 p.m. when they were shot.

The sheriff refused to discuss the identity or any other details about the shooter during a press conference later in the day.

The shooter was later identified as John Hubert Highnote, 59, of Bell. He was found dead in a pickup truck outside the restaurant from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

No further information is available regarding Highnote. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is conducting an ongoing criminal investigation.

“It’s not about him,” Schultz said at a press conference. “It’s about my deputies. There is no indication of any ongoing threat to our community, and we remain committed to your safety with the help of our other assisting agencies. This tragedy touches us all.”

The press conference was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., but it was delayed until almost 8 p.m., because Schultz went to both homes to comfort the families of the two deputies.

Ramirez, 29, was married with two young children. He had been in law enforcement for seven years, service with the Williston Police Department and the Levy County Sheriff’s Department. He had served Gilchrist County for two years.

Lindsey, 25, was single, but left behind a girlfriend. He had served as a Gilchrist deputy for three years.

The two deputies were in the Ace Chinese restaurant having lunch when they were shot. There were two bullet holes in the glass.

“I made contact with the families and as you’d expect never be prepared for something like this. But make no mistake, I’m proud of their families. They understood when their loved ones pinned on the badge and they strapped on the gun that this was a possibility.

“Anybody that can hear me, the sound of my voice and they can see my face on their TV, [know] that Sgt. Ramirez and Deputy Lindsey were the best of the best. They are men of integrity. They’re men of loyalty. They’re God-fearing and they loved what they did and we are very proud of them.

“I’m not near as articulate as I should be on a bunch of things but I’m honored that I get to work with men and woman just like those two individuals. They gave their lives so that we can all be safe … you know … I am 26 years of doing this, nothing can prepare you for senseless deaths. I want to focus on them, not only were they the quintessential deputy sheriff’s that you’d want, they were quintessential children, husbands, boyfriends, brothers, law enforcement brethren that anybody could ever want.

“I knew both of them personally. I can sit here in front of all you and say that I love them. And they were loved. When I met with the families today I told them that they could be proud of those men, they could be proud, and I’m proud to have been their sheriff. I’m proud for the opportunity I had to have worked alongside with them. I don’t have answers to why this happened.

“The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will conclude their investigation and the time that they feel fit to release information. But I want you to know that they don’t need to be remembered strictly for their untimely death, but they need to be remembered for the type of people that they are and that’s good individuals, good deputy sheriff’s. I’d like to thank all the agencies involved.

“If you look behind me there’s men and women from just about every county in North Florida represented. Sheriff’s, police chiefs, public safety officers, state representatives. I’ve been contacted by everybody you can think of, because they recognize that we have heroes among us. They understand what it takes to be a law enforcement officer. There’s so much I want to say, and so much I shouldn’t say. But I will say this, we’re not going to make this into a; at least the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office, and I think I can speak for every citizen of Gilchrist County, we are not going to make this a political issue other than the facts — what do you expect  happens when you demonize law enforcement to the extent it’s been demonized — every type of hate, every type of put down that you can think of, the only thing these men were guilty of was wanting to protect you and me. They just wanted to go get something to eat.”